Jakarta, 2014

Hey everyone! I am finally back from a long weekend getaway in Jakarta! I have to say December has been a crazy good month and I am really thankful for that. Ultimately grateful and it is only right to share these good times with you guys. Making time attending parties after parties in support of organizers and friends, and to be able to make a return visit to Indonesia again this year to visit relatives and new places is a bliss. It is indescribable. Somehow, I don't want December to go! Nevertheless, I am all prepared now for 2015. I am feeling really blessed because early 2014 was a rough beginning and I am hoping to end the year on a good note, and start the year one step ahead.

How's my weekend trip in Jakarta? It was crazy fun! Great is an understatement. Despite the massive traffic jam, I had a good time basking in the culture, ambience, and definitely witnessed exemplary driving etiquette despite their roads being insane. Nevertheless, it is heartening that you can sense good atmosphere ever since the investiture of the new president, Mr Joko Widodo.

I have been to Indonesia a lot of times, I love it because the food are well-flavored. It is probably a country where I would say their street food is way more delicious than what is served in most flashy restaurants. Speaking of restaurants, I will get to that later. Food there is disturbingly cheap and good, I could buy a bowl of bakso (meatball) and still have lots to spare and go for a second round.

As this was a planned yet impromptu trip, I will not furnish you guys with the boring details of me sleeping in the car while on the road, but I will share with you the places that I go to because honestly, when my relative asked me where did I want to go, I was really unsure. Jakarta and Bandung is too big to even think of a place. Spoilt for choice but here you go!

Flew via Jetstar, I definitely had a mismatched expectation. I am liking the Jetstar self-check-in in Singapore's Changi Airport Terminal 1, simply because at that time the queue was long and I don't do well with queueing. I was wandering around while the rest were queueing and I was like "Eh? Self-check-in?" and literally no one was using the self-check-in machines. So I gave it a try and "Beep!" it works! I am really applauding the self-check-in service because we saved about half hour from queuing just to check in. All you have to do is to follow the instructions given and your boarding pass will be printed, then chuck all your luggages onto the belt for the weight to be assessed before sending it off to the aircraft. That simple.

However, I was quite disappointed by the disgusting seats. Since it's meant for short-haul, it's all about spending as little time as possible docking at the airport to save cost. I saw facial oils on the front of my seat and for short-hauls, go figure how many times have they flown to-and-fro. I was just imagining how someone with major OCD would survive. Hygiene is important to most of us, so the least I expect was to have a seat that is clean if not a warm towel. LOL!

I slept throughout the flight.

I am sure most of us misses A&W, I am just not sure why it is no longer in Singapore. It's not that I hate McDonald's but we could use a variety of fast food like A&W, Taco Bell, or TCBY et cetera. I was heads over heels when I saw this! Loving their spicy chicken.

After lunching upon arrival, I headed to Manhattan Hotel, where I stayed a night before heading to Bandung - the hotel has a great view so if you are going for the view of skyline during the holidays, would like to see the nightlight and maybe fireworks if you are lucky, Manhattan Hotel is the it place to spend your night. Sometimes I dread going to Indonesia because of the haze but now, I came to conclusion that December is not exactly the worst time to go since the rain washes down the soot in the air. Loving the clear unobstructed view. For once you can see the clear blue sky!

The hotel is also located centrally along the shopping belt at Jalan Profesor Doktor Satrio (stylized as Jl. Prof. Dr. Satrio) where all the malls are walking distance. In fact, walking to the mall is the best option to avoid traffic. You will take approximately 45 minutes if you are going to drive because of the jam and search for parking. Walking there only took a third of the time. So ironic!

Although the malls are conveniently located, I find that the gym was way accesible so that's where I went before dinner. Just needed to activate some muscles after spending time throughout the flight asleep. After which I went to Tamnak Thai restaurant for welcome dinner by my Jakarta relatives - it was mouthwatering and much needed meal! Tamnak's Tom Yam soup is hard to pass! I don't really take spicy food on holidays but since it looks and smells so good, I don't mind being called double standard favoring this. At least I had an awesome meal. ;)

Spent the rest of the day packing for a road trip to Bandung.

I initially thought there was nothing much or rather, nothing new in Bandung but I was hell wrong. Bandung is actually more happening than Jakarta - despite Jakarta being the capital of Indonesia. There were lots of things to see, new places to go and food to taste. In fact, that's the reason why most holiday goers would avoid making their way to Bandung on a Friday because that's when majority of the people in Jakarta will drive down there and you'll probably get stuck in traffic jam. The drive on the highway takes about 4-hours on a non-peak period - when it's only about 150km off Jakarta. So can you imagine the time taken during peak hours?

It also helps that my relative showed me around, so I am truly grateful and thankful for that. Thank God! Locals tend to know the inside streets in Bandung and they can help you through the traffic too.

Upon reaching, the first sight-seeing I did was at this place called Dusun Bambu. It's a bamboo-concept park where most of the things there are made of bamboo and they have beautiful nests where you can dine in. The place is not as hot and humid as you think, it's on a mountain so it's quite cold except in the afternoon. I still didn't sweat much, so it's good I guess!

Personally, the highlight for me was the bamboo swing! Even though the seat was slippery and almost had me thrown off the swing, I reminisced of my childhood days when I was twelve enjoying the swing after school hours and bullying some kids for fun at the playground - bullying was quite mutual then though it was just teasing around. These days it's so hard to find a swing in Singapore! Probably easier to find people with mood swings though. Haha! Throwback memories!

I did not dine in the nest because I wanted something more adventurous so I had street food at this eatery called Kedai Lugina where it sells everything mutton. This is the best mutton place in town. When I travel, I love culinary with a native touch. Otherwise, I might as well sit home and order in right? You only live once. #yolo

I had Nasi Goreng Kambing (mutton fried rice), Sup Kambing (mutton soup) and Satay Kambing (mutton satay). I probably had your jaws dropped now. Yes, I am working on a diet now since I am back. No more meat for the next few weeks! My cholesterol level is probably off the charts. I wonder how people in Bandung can resist this tempting menu.

When I was told this is the best mutton joint, I wondered how do you define best when it is just street food. Amazingly the mutton did not have an after-taste; those ammonia smell after you eat mutton and that the cook doesn't even use butter and oil for their satay. The meat is as tender even without it. Hence, I approve this would be the best mutton joint in Cimahi!

Across Kedai Lugina I found this superb and powerful street art. Not sure if it is still called vandalism if it is well intent? Nevertheless, I find this Cimahi's slogan very universal and apt. Cimahi is a city in west Bandung where I was at. The message on that art says Saluyu Ngawangun Jati Mandiri. It is not the Mandiri bank I am talking about! Mandiri actually means indepedent in Bahasa Indonesia.

Hence, the slogan Saluyu Ngawangan Jati Mandiri simply carries a message of being harmonious, working shoulder to shoulder in building positive self-image, independence and progress.

I then headed to Trans Studio Mall and theme park. That's where my perception towards Bandung changed in a good way.

The mall is simply gorgeous. It's huge, it's well designed and decorated especially during this festive occasion. For a country that is quite notorious for its you know, militants and whatnot, the malls there are quite liberated with high end retail like Salvatore Ferragamo and Hugo Boss - catering to those from Jakarta who are in Bandung. It is definitely integrated for the community and tourists because they even have an indoor theme park.

Which is very, very convenient and practical in countries with erratic weather.

Trans Studio Studio theme park is huge although not the largest, it can still fit in adrenaline pumping and wet rides like the freefall and the luge. On sunny days, you will be able to ride on the roller coaster as major part of the coaster track is outdoors. It was unfortunate that it was raining when I was there because I can't get my butt on that roller coaster! I guess it happened for a good reason. I had a load of mutton before that. I don't want accidental spew up while on it. Haha!

Just annoyed that the Dunlop ride did not allow me to ride the car on my own. It was so retarded because I wanted to drive the car on my own and not be a passenger of a bumper car-like ride and I was denied of it being reason the ride was meant for two. I was quite pissed because the people who went before me got to drive it on their own just because they are so-called alone. What a shame. It's not even a thrilling ride to begin with. Worse, the queue was not even long for me to wait for another car!

If anyone must know my ultimate motive visiting Bandung, it was actually this. I was there to visit my uncle's new mosque project which he planned. The mosque is very, very strategic and sublime. It is located right across Trans Studio Mall, so if you are lack of cash after shopping, it's probably time to kneel and pray for divine intervention. If not, just be there to be grateful for all the blessings you got! Loving the mosque you built uncle!

After the tour I had dinner at Alas Daun with my relatives and all. For a considerably classy Sundanese restaurant, I was hating the slippery and dirty floor - especially since it was raining. Nevertheless the food was good, freshly cooked, and served scorching hot

The following morning before heading back to Jakarta I dropped by Prima Rasa, where they sell pastries and cookies. I love Indonesian pastries and cookies because of their authentic flavor. It was quite crowded. Due to the crowd and bulk purchases by the locals, most pastries are indeed freshly baked. Most times patrons would wait for their wanted delicacies to be baked. Waiting time is not that long, say about half hour? While waiting you can always try the samples on the racks and try out the street food outside the premises.

Although Prima Rasa has a lot of variety, it still does not have the things that I want. So I went to Tebet in Jakarta before heading back to Manhattan Hotel for my crackers to be brought home! My mum didn't know I bought this much until we were packing. She thought I wanted to open a business selling chips. The chips are too delicious to not buy!

Bought so much it had to be in a luggage on its own. Okay not really, the rest were in another hand carry. My chips are such princesses and fragile. Need to be handled with care and not tossed around like a piece of meat!

Remaining days in Jakarta were spent exploring the malls nearby. I love Lotte Shopping Avenue! It is walking distance away from Manhattan Hotel, although it may be tiring to some, it saves much more time than driving. Their sale was splendid. Up to seventy percent discount on most items at Lotte departmental store was not a joke. Literally. You know how on most sales you don't get the color you want, or the size you want, or a new set of items. Here, you will not feel cheated!

I spent an amount and was rewarded with vouchers and was really grateful for this! Not sure about the mall ratings there but I am appreciating the fact that I was able to walk in groups without colliding with another stranger like how you experienced in a crowded mall. Especially when this mall is really peaceful, it brings retail therapy to a whole new therapeutical level. Even the customer service was good. Despite being a peaceful mall, it does not mean it is lack of entertainment and buzz. The atrium was filled with art galleries and performances at night.

I then had supper for farewell at Dim Sum Inc, because it was late and it is one of the many places that offers tasty dim sum for 24 hours. On top of that it has a fast WiFi for patron access - had to update something quickly before we started eating!

The dim sum was good. I am not a fan of eating chicken feet but the blackpepper sauce is too irresistable to give it a miss. I was just hoping the feet doesn't crawl while I was at it. The curry pau was tasteful too. A must try if you are going. You will definitely love the ambience because it has this hipster/bar kind of setting serving Asian food.

Sometimes, supper does not do so I had to order room service! Just to satisfy my cravings and hunger pangs because I do not want to miss any food when I am back. I need a routine already! The room service was quite fast. Perhaps because it was after-hours and they seem so free. They probably hate me for making such late night orders. At least that had me slept well!

While this trip is more about spending time tantalizing taste buds with different kinds of food and setting eyes on the greenery, I did not have the time to eat Indonesian favorite traditional Mi Bakso (meatball noodle). I finally had the chance to #nomnomnom on it at Soekarno Hatta airport.

I hope you guys are having as much fun during this holiday season! See you again!